I am in the midst of reading the book I started awhile back by Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted. I’m reading page after page, sentence after sentence, word after word that really boils down to faith without works is dead.
This book doesn’t hold back. it is unapologetically forward in telling us that God doesn’t request, but demands we serve him through service to the marginalized in our world. All to often I am lured into believing that a kind word or act to an equally blessed person is doing God’s work. Trust me, I’m not saying it’s not. However, the problem is when we become complacent with, as Hatmaker says, blessing the blessed.
As she states in her book, “If we claim affinity for Christ but turn a blind eye to those He identified himself with (the least of these in Matthew), there is no honor in that. There is no truth in that.”
What am I supposed to do with that? Clearly blessing the blessed is not service to “the least of these.” Just when I was comfortable and feeling good about donating my clothes to Goodwill or putting my extra change into the offering plate or purchasing girl scout cookies thinking I was doing some great deed, I get slapped in the face with the magnitude of my need to really serve others. Again, not that there’s anything amoral with these things….not at all. But it’s just not good enough to make minimal sacrifices and then pat ourselves on the back.
So crap. I know. Not the most church-like expression in the world….but I feel such an obligation to really stretch myself today for my first in light of this reading and reflection. Trying a new recipe, smiling at every person I know….these just will not do. Today I have to find a way to serve “the least of these”….. the truly marginalized.
And while I’m doing this, I can’t just blindly donate money. There’s no emotion in that. What’s important is connecting with the humanity of the person, Hatmaker points out in her writing. It’s not about being some benevolent American Christian who is here to bestow blessings on another and then go about their business like nothing happened.
It’s about having a heart to help while recognizing we all need help. It’s about being the conduit of God to assist another. Just like the night E and I volunteered at the homeless shelter, it’s not about me at all. It’s about her. The lady I connected with and made a loan to this evening.
Some time ago, I heard of the organization Kiva. It is a group that provides microloans to groups and/or individuals around the globe. My understanding is it specifically targets those looking for loans in developing or impoverished nations. Here in the US, I am never more than a short drive away from a bank where I can take out a sizable loan for anything from paying off another loan to purchasing a home to starting a business. In many of the nations Kiva assists individuals, this is not an option for the average citizen.
That’s where Kiva comes in. Tonight I went to their website (which you can access by clicking here) and began perusing all of the many individuals and groups around the world looking for loans. There were requests for college tuition, home improvements, supplies for businesses, and so many others. After today’s reading, I felt compelled to go to the area titled “vulnerable groups.”
I clicked the link to find loan requests in the Middle East. Why there? I know women are subjected to gender-based violence and inequity in this region. I kept thinking of the specific call in the Gospel to serve widows. I knew I had to find a woman in this region who was looking for funding to help support her family. I read the story of Sajida in Iraq and felt so connected with her story. She was looking for a loan to purchase supplies for her sewing business which she uses to help support her family.
The awesome thing about Kiva is I will receive updates on Sajida and her business while she begins the process of paying back her creditors who assisted with her loan — one of which is me.